This is the one we've waited for

GAA: Mayo GAA Senior Football Championship Round One

Making the step up: Tommy Conroy and his The Neale teammates will be getting a taste of senior championship action this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Making the step up: Tommy Conroy and his The Neale teammates will be getting a taste of senior championship action this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Club football has been back up and running for the past few weeks, but this is the big one that we all have been waiting for.

With crowds capped at 200 it's going to be a different kind of club championship opening weekend and Mayo GAA have tried to take the hit out of it for club fans, by streaming three games this weekend with the Charlestown v Castlebar Mitchels, Aghamore v Ballintubber and Breaffy v Westport games all being streamed live on Mayo GAA TV.

Group One

Ballagh' v Belmullet

Saturday, August 1 at 7pm

After making the final last year, Ballaghaderreen will have plenty of eyes on them to see can they back that up and go a step further this year. They have the likes of Andy Moran, Shaorize Akram, Cian Hanley and David Drake all solely focusing on club football this term, so they will be a real force if they get things right.

Belmullet more than held their own last term in their first year back up in senior football, but they have been dealt a serious blow with Chris Barrett transferring to Clontarf this term. But Damien Mulligan will be looking for young stars like Ryan O'Donoghue, Eoin O'Donoghue and Garry Boylan to drive them on this year.

Verdict: Ballagh'

The Neale v Garrymore

Saturday, August 1 at 7pm

This is sure to be a special occasion in Cong when last year's intermediate champions, The Neale, take their first steps in the senior championship. Eoin Hughes' men will be looking to hit the ground running and in Tommy Conroy they have one of the most exciting young talents in the game, while Seanie Cosgrove is one of the most reliable forwards for the past few years.

Garrymore have been one of the most solid senior sides over the past decade - while they haven't reached a final they have shown more than once they are able to mix it with the boys - Caolan Crowe and Shane Nally are experienced hands at this level of competition and will be looked to lead them.

Verdict: Garrymore

Group Two

Davitts v Moy Davitts

Saturday, August 1 at 5pm

The return to action of Colm Boyle last weekend in the Michael Walsh League was the big talking point in Mayo GAA circles after round two in that competition. Having Boyle back in harness is something that Davitts will be delighted about. Last year saw Davitts make the knock-out stages and Padraig Costello will be hoping they will have a chance of doing that again.

The visitors preparation was far from ideal with last weekend's Michael Walsh game against Garrymore called off due to Covid concerns shortly before throw-in. They held on to their senior status last term and will be looking to improve on that this time around - but heading to the bear pit in Ballindine is far from an easy start.

Verdict: Davitts

Ballintubber v Aghamore

Saturday, August 1 at 7pm

The three-in-a-row chasing hosts will be looking to lay down a serious marker of intent on Saturday evening. Kevin Johnson's men have the habit of winning tight games and with the return of Cillian O'Connor to the fold last weekend, their already impressive attack has been given a major boost.

The east Mayo men will travel knowing they are up against it, but they have plenty of quality to call on, like Fergal Boland and Brendan Harrison, who will be key to their chances of causing a upset, but it looks like the other two games in the group will be key to their potential progress.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Group Three

Ballina v Kiltane

Sunday, August 2 at 4pm

The Stephenites laid down a serious marker last year - making the semi-final showed the grand old club are back as serious contenders and a lot of eyes will be on how they follow it up this year. Enda Gilvarry's men are packed full of inter-county talent, with Ciaran Tracey, Padraig O'Hora, David Clarke and Mikey Murray all serious operators, while former inter-county men, Ger Cafferkey and Evan Regan, still have lots to offer at this level.

Kiltane are one of the hardest sides to break down at this level and Ciaran O'Hara will have them well tuned up to try and throw a spanner in the Stephenites' revival. They'll need big games from the likes of Mikey Conroy, Mikey Sweeney and Tommy Conroy if they are to have a chance of upsetting the odds in this one.

Verdict: Ballina

Knockmore v Claremorris

Sunday, August 2 at 2pm

The Parish of the Backs are one of the most consistent sides in senior football and are more than capable of going deep in this competition. Ray Dempsey is in charge of his home club still and will have them well ready for this one and with Kevin McLoughlin pulling the strings for them on the field, they will be very hard to beat at home.

The south Mayo visitors have a new management team with Ray Connelly and Johnny Mulkeen in charge of the side this term. Claremorris have been full of potential and made the semi-final a few years ago, but have failed to back that up. If they can get some consistency going they have plenty of talented young players to give this a real go.

Verdict: Knockmore

Group Four

Charlestown v Castlebar Mitchels

Saturday, August 1 at 5pm

This is a game the Homeside will have been targeting for a long time out - Martin Mulvaney's side will be ready to put it up to the Mitchels when they come calling. Big games will be needed from the likes of Tom Parsons, Paul Towey, Jack Reilly and Gareth O'Donnell if they are to get the win.

The visitors are a bit of a mystery for most of this year, having opted for the challenge game circuit rather than the Michael Walsh League in recent weeks. They have a new manager on board with Alan Flynn over the team this year - they have bags of quality and know how to win and will be keen to stop Ballintubber drive for another title.

Verdict: Castlebar

Breaffy v Westport

Sunday, August 2 at 4pm

This is probably the tie of the round in what is a group of death. The hosts have been the nearly-men of the past number of years, but went out last term to Ballina in the last eight and will be keen to really have a cut at the title this year. Peter Ford and Shane Conway are still in charge - they have the likes of the O'Shea's, Mattie Ruane and Rob Hennelly to call on and will need them on Sunday.

The visitors are the coming side of the past three or four years, but did have a serious blip last year, finishing bottom of their group. The side is packed full of young talent and experienced players like Lee Keegan, Fionn McDonagh and Kevin Keane - they will not be found wanting. This one should be a close one and could come right down to the wire on Sunday evening.

Verdict: Breaffy

 

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